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Researchers from National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune, India took the breakthrough discovery that human breast milk contains stem cells to the next level by suggesting that the cells have potential in treating sick babies and reducing infant mortality rate.
Financial Chronicle quoted study-collaborator, Satish Patki, senior gynecologist and infertility specialist, Patki Hospital and Research Foundation, as saying, “The new stem cell dose can be given orally for rapid recovery from diseases like neonatal sepsis, respiratory diseases and others that cause infant mortality the world over.”
Dr. Mark Cregan from Australia confirmed the presence of putative stem-like cells in human milk in a research in 2008. The research, however, did not verify the pleuropotent differentiation potential of the cells.
A pleuropotent cell is capable of developing into many types of tissue.
Researchers conducted pilot study in two Kolhapur hospitals on 25 newborn babies suffering from various diseases.
Under the trial, scientists gave colostrum stem cells isolated from the breast milk that is produced during the first five days after birth to the babies.
These were given in cultured medium of 5 ml containing 5 to 10 million cells, and the duration of the therapy varied depending upon the recovery.
Results revealed that all the 25 babies showed a speedy recovery after being given colostrums.
Researchers further estimated that in the first five days of breastfeeding, a newborn gets about 5 million stem cells per kg body weight each day.
As is known, colostrums contain about 50,000 cells per ml. As the milk matures, these go down to just 50 to 100 cells per ml.
Furthermore, researchers found that stem cells could be used to help treat spinal injuries, diabetes and even Parkinson’s disease in infants.
Besides, certain neonatal diseases like neonatal sepsis, respiratory diseases and others could also be cured if these stem cells were isolated from human milk.
Financial Chronicle quoted Patki as saying, “We will seek permission from Indian Council of Medical Research to carry out 100 trials each in Kolhapur, Pune, Mumbai and Delhi.”
Patki and study-colleague Dr. Ramesh Bhonde, NCCS stated that the team is certain of creating an oral drug for babies in three years’ time after approval from Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
The research will be published in the journal Human Cell.